Song of Praise for a Flower
Fengxian Chu with Charlene Chu
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (3/18)
Fengxian Chu’s manuscript “Song of Praise for a Flower,” lay hidden in a bank vault for nearly two decades before her cousin from America persuaded her to release it. That in itself tells me a lot about the value of this personal historical story about her life in China from the 1920s to the 1980s.
Growing up in turbulent times and being raised in rice country, the author remembers how the old ways slowly gave way to modern ideas about marriage, foot binding, and girls getting a college education. The importance of foot binding was to bring out the beauty and elegance of a girl – only being able to take small steps, made her more seductive to men. Interestingly enough it was felt it prevented girls from straying too far from home which might impact her virginity.
I found the historical information on Japanese occupation and Chinese Communist Party quite interesting, in particular, how individuals were treated, how farming communities were developed, which turned families against each other with greed and jealousy. It is very heartbreaking to hear that families, especially children had to rely on eating bugs, and leaves because they were deprived basic needs. Through all this, the author harbors no resentment toward those who cruelly punished, starved, or abused her family. She only wants to know why. This book is a legacy for her children and their children.
I believe everyone should read this passionate, sometimes heartbreaking personal account of what it was like for the Chinese during this time period. There are very few memoirs written by women during this period, and I honestly learned so much about customs, taboos, and the resilience of the Chinese people. I highly recommend “Song of Praise for a Flower” by Fengxian Chu with Charlene Chu, as it provides encouragement to face one’s adversity head on and continue to be positive regardless of what comes our way.